Ask SAIL: Wet Batteries in a “Waterproof” Portable Marine Electronic Device

P. Finnimore, Raleigh, NC

Q: I recently purchased a handheld battery-operated GPS chartplotter. I was told it could survive 30 minutes in a couple of feet of seawater. But once when landing the dinghy on a beach, I jumped out too soon with the GPS in my pocket. After a thorough drying off, it quit on a fresh set of AA batteries. How can they call it “waterproof?”



Gordon West Replies

A: Any time you dunk a “waterproof” portable marine electronic device, get the batteries out immediately! While the electronics are sealed against seawater intrusion, the battery compartment may not be. Open the battery compartment, remove the batteries and irrigate the battery tray and compartment with fresh water. Then leave it in the sun to dry. If the LCD display is not fogged, your portable handheld device will likely survive. Clean the battery contacts with alcohol before installing new batteries. A “floating submersible” portable electronic device, on the other hand, may feature O-rings to keep water out of the battery compartment.


Photos courtesy of Standard Horizon 

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